Do-it-yourself medal ceremony at Tokyo Games amid pandemic

KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP

Olympic champions at the Tokyo Games starting next week can forget about having their medals hung around their necks as they stand on the podium, shaking hands with dignitaries and soaking up their success.

Instead, the three medals will be presented on a tray to the athletes on the podium and they then have to hang them around their own neck in front of the empty stands. There will also be no handshakes or hugs.

"The medals will not given around the neck," International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach told a virtual media roundtable on Wednesday.

"They will be presented to the athlete on a tray and the athlete will take the medal him or herself."

"It will be made sure the person who will put the medal on the tray will do it with disinfected gloves. Presenters and athletes will wear a mask. There will be no handshakes and no hugs during the ceremony," he added.

The host city, where a state of emergency has been imposed until after the Games end on August 8, recorded 1,149 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the most in nearly six months.

The Olympics have lost much public support in Japan because of fears they will trigger a surge of infections even though no spectators will be allowed into sports venues and there are strict health measures in place for all Games participants. 

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